A new UK study has found that heavy drinking increased during the lockdowns during the CCP virus pandemic and the increased costs to NHS England are expected to cast a “long shadow.”
The study developed by the University of Sheffield for NHS England found that lockdown and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic may lead to thousands of extra hospital admissions, deaths, and cases of disease over the next 20 years.
Billions From Additional Alcohol Consumption
The team looked at five alternative scenarios for how alcohol consumption may develop from 2022 onwards. In a best-case scenario, where all drinkers return to their 2019 levels of drinking this year, there would still be an extra 42,677 hospital admissions and 1,830 deaths over 20 years due to alcohol.
In a worst-case scenario, this would rise to 972,382 extra hospital admissions and 25,192 deaths, at a cost to the NHS of £5.2 billion ($6.2 billion) over 20 years.
“In our main scenario, we estimate that, over the next 20 years, there will be an additional 207,597 alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and 7,153 alcohol-attributable deaths, costing the NHS an additional £1.1 billion [$1.3 billion] compared to if alcohol consumption had remained at 2019 levels,” the team wrote.
“These impacts are not evenly distributed across the population, with heavier drinkers and those in the most deprived areas, who already suffer the highest rates of alcohol-attributable harm, expected to be disproportionately affected,” it added.
Colin Angus, senior research fellow who led the University of Sheffield study, said: “These figures highlight that the pandemic’s impact on our drinking behaviour is likely to cast a long shadow on our health and paint a worrying picture at a time when NHS services are already under huge pressure due to treatment backlogs.”
In a separate study, the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and modelling specialists HealthLumen found that if drinking does not to return to pre-pandemic patterns, then by 2035 there will be 147,892 additional cases of nine alcohol-related diseases—such as liver cirrhosis and breast cancer—and 9,914 more premature deaths. They projected that this would cost the NHS £1.2 billion ($1.4 billion).
In the Sheffield study, they modelled that there are expected to be just over 124,000 additional hospital admissions in men and 83,000 in women over the next 20 years.
“If you really dig into the data, for example, you see that there’s a particular sort of bump in women’s drinking at the point where they’re most likely to have been doing homeschooling during the initial lockdown,” said Angus.
Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, told The Epoch Times by email that these “two news reports highlight how the coronavirus pandemic has created conditions for more people to drink more heavily putting them at greater risk of serious alcohol harm.”
“This could potentially lead to thousands of additional premature deaths with even more lives cut short and families left grieving,” he said. “To help prevent this, we need an urgent set of policies from the government to tackle alcohol harm, including proper, sustainable funding for treatment services, a minimum unit price for alcohol, improved labelling of alcoholic drinks and products, and better regulation of alcohol marketing. These policies will make a huge difference in changing and saving lives.”
Alcohol During the CCP Virus Pandemic
The increased consumption of alcohol during the pandemic has been observed in multiple countries.
The number was 19.6 percent higher than in 2019, during which 6,209 people were killed by alcohol. It was also the highest annual death toll for the past 20 years.
A survey conducted in September 2020 revealed that two in five Australians had been drinking more alcohol than usual since the pandemic began.
In the United States, hospitals across the country have reported dramatic increases in alcohol-related admissions for critical diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis and liver failure.
PA Media and Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.